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We Did Porn: Memoir and Drawings Paperback – July 28, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0980243680 ISBN-10: 0980243688 Edition: First Edition

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We Did Porn: Memoir and Drawings + Zak Smith: Pictures Of Girls + Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow
Price for all three: $71.47

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Tin House Books; First Edition edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980243688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980243680
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Visual artist and recent alt-porn star Smith—known in the adult film world as Zak Sabbath—takes readers on a frenetic journey from the New York art scene to pornography-saturated Los Angeles. Interspersed with his drawings, which have been displayed at MoMA and the 2004 Whitney Biennial, Smith's memoir is more a series of linked vignettes than a chronological account of his foray into alt-porn. As distinct from mainstream hardcore porn, alt-porn tries to do with sex the kinds of things ambitious young filmmakers might try to do after graduating from art school. It was Smith's collection of illustrations for Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow that first attracted the attention of pirate porn director Osbie Feel. As Smith puts it, I ended up in porn because one day I sat down and decided to draw one picture for every page of a very thick book no one I knew had read. In addition to attending the Porn Film Festival Berlin and the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas—and having sex with countless women with names like Tina DiVine and Trixie Kyle in countless warehouse sets—Smith is also a cultural critic, dissecting everything from Valentine's Day to the grammar in antipornography laws. Just as porn, alternative or otherwise, has its fans, Smith's memoir is an acquired taste and will appeal to those who like things a little kinky. (July 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review


"Intelligent, frank and often hilarious meditation on the author's dual career...The pleasure in this book comes not from living through the author's atypical experience, but in being taken deeper into areas of thought commonly perceived as taboo—a wild, entirely worthwhile ride." ."—Kirkus Reviews

"Smith’s take on the industry is vivid and insightful, including observations on people, politics and American culture—the push-and-pull between the Right and those who want the right to screw."—Kirkus Reviews, Nonfiction Supplement

"Will appeal to those who like things a little kinky."—Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating synthesis of words and art..."—LibraryJournal.com

"An intelligent, funny, and self-aware reminder that intelligent, funny, and self-aware people do in fact choose to work in the porn industry...It is all incredibly interesting and entertaining."—Alison Hallett, The Portland Mercury

"The subject matter — combined with his clever imagery — couldn’t help but keep it fascinating... It reminded me of David Foster Wallace’s hilarious, equally dense essay “Big Red Son”...Smith and Wallace have similarly breathless, heady writing styles and We Did Porn could easily serve as a porn insider’s compliment to Wallace’s journalistic-outsider perspective."—Alex Peterson, Willamette Week Online

"Artist Zak Smith injects some life into the moribund genre of the memoir with this thoughtful and hilarious look into the alt-porn industry." —Drew Toal, Time Out New York

"Wildly entertaining." —Fleshbot

"...a page-turner...a genuinely enjoyable read..." —Audacia Ray, author of Naked on the Internet
"Alongside 'fine artist and 'porn star' on Zak Smith's unique resume, you can now add the phrase 'entertaining and resourceful writer'...[We Did Porn] is exhaustive, perceptive, empathic, and very funny."—John Bolster, Penthouse

"...reads not unlike a George Plimpton-style adventure in immersive investigation, as the artist chronicles his adventures in front of the camera as eager rookie Zak Sabbath, with words, pictures, self-awareness, and dark humor." —Shana Nys Dambrot, Flavorpill

"...Smith is an outrageously talented observer, which makes his writing almost as arresting as his images, which are superb. Smith's detailed descriptions of 'life in the zeros' both on and off the set make We did Porn a fascinating x-rates documents of a cynical age." —Jim Ruland, Girls Gone Wild Magazine

"...combines words and images, mixing memoir with gorgeous paintings...Smith's art is exquisite, intensely drawn with splashes of electric colors, sharp lines and energy throbbing in every complex detail...We Did Porn is an excellent book and Zak Smith is an incredibly interesting artist and writer."—Alyssa Bianca-Pavley, Fanzine.com

"The many crosscurrents in Smith's works are fun, but more compelling is the fact that Smith does not seem so much involved in critique as something else from literary post-modernism—he's leapt into his own work as a character...Smith seems headed towards the historiographic, creatively narrating an alternative history, in this case, of a very recent past moment, from what might be perceived as the center of our authentic cultural life." —Joe Fyfe, Artnet.com

"Smith's 'artwork is impeccable. There is tenderness, daring, heat in his pieces. With a Nan Goldin compassion, he captures an intimacy that is often lacking in the movies he and his comrades make.'"—The San Francisco Bay Guardian

"This book is beautiful and complicated and riveting... I think there's no doubt that Zak Smith has genius, or that thing that we think of as genius that is really just the urge to get up every morning and spend long hours struggling with art." —Stephen Elliott, The Rumpus


More About the Author

Punk artist and icon Zak Smith made a name for himself by visually interpreting Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and drawing pictures of girls in the "naked girl business." His artistic pedigree and acute observation have landed him in high-profile shows from the Whitney to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and his work has appeared in numerous publications worldwide.

Zak Smith's books include Pictures Of Girls and Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow (Tin House Books), and the forthcoming We Did Porn. He is a frequent contributor to several independent comics and zines, including Paping and See How Pretty, See How Smart. He lives in Los Angeles, where he works as an artist and performs in adult films.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reader and Writer on August 31, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pleasingly chunky shape, high quality paper, beautiful pictures. But the real surprise is how well it's written.

Visual artist Zak Smith doubles as porn actor Zak Sabbath, and he is the perfect informant on his industry. He's smart enough to notice things other people don't, and wise enough to attempt to make sense of the craziness without pathologizing. It helps that he is a man who loves women, especially the adorable alt porn actress "Candy Crushed" AKA Mandy Morbid -- the latter half of the book is a little bit of a love story to her.

Smith's self-deprecating humor sometimes reminded me a little of David Foster Wallace. There were beautiful sentences that made me think "This is how a visual artist sees the world" (like when he describes a porn star as having skin the color of the skin on very good cheesecakes or when he describes a girl as being like those heavy-headed flowers that Japanese gardeners tie to stakes). Probably the strongest parts of the book are where he really lets his anger loose, such as the chapter about Sasha Grey's appearance on the Tyra Banks show. This is an earnest and pure transmission.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Higginbotham on July 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
After getting this book in the mail a couple days ago I began reading it at about 1am (quiet time). As fatigue inevitably set in after a couple hours of reading, I found myself fighting to stay awake because I didn't want to put it down.
Zak Smith has a fascinating and engaging way of describing his experiences and surroundings, which keeps you eager to see what the next paragraph/page/chapter is going to tell you.
I hope that people don't shut this book out of their reading lists because of their preconceptions of or apprehension to the adult film industry. This is not a senseless book of porn and debauchery. It's a brilliantly crafted memoir full of honesty, social commentary, wit and elaborate detail.
The artwork pairs well with the writing, though there is no direct correlation between the pictures and words. Zak Smith's style of writing and style of visual art are stylistically similar in feel, which makes for a great overall experience.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Currently reading, so far its just as entertaining as it was during filming. Dwight and I (probably again, Dwight) would spend our evenings watching each day's rushes...some scenes repeatedly. Great fun and its amusing to read about it from Zak's perspective. His sense of humor regarding the experience in general, makes the book, what I can only describe as, all kinds of awesome.
Read it.
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By Jay P. Gunter on November 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Smith writes to entertain and largely succeeds, going urban-philosopher at times. The illustrations look like they probably were done on the sets. Most didn't really do much for me, but I like a few. He describes what goes on, what "the talent" gets paid, etc., which I found interesting. He wants to you care about people he cares about, and to an extent I did.
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